Lunch with a Twist of LimeStarted by Eric Richards at Jun 21, 2020 2:23 AM
March 15, 1924
To be successful in business, you have to be ruthless.
Eric grinned as he re-read the item in The Herald. He had heard about the death of Carl Whaley and like most people, expected the bulk of his inheritance to go to his wife but this bordering on the hilarious. Victoria Hayes' sources were impeccable, something he found out during the time they were seeing each other. Even though there were no mentions of names, he knew who Victoria was talking about.
In fact, anyone in high society knew who was being written about in the newspapers, even when they withheld their actual names. What Victoria didn't know was about his relationship with Carl's widow back in his college days. To him, it was nothing more than a diversion to fill in the dull times when he wasn't in class or studying. When he met Patricia, he severed his ties to Evelyn, who for a few months, tried all she could to win him back. However, Patricia had something Evelyn didn't - a rich father. In the end he won Patricia and most important of all, her father's company.
A noise alerted him that someone was entering his study. Folding up the newspaper, he looked up to greet his visitor. "Liz, don't tell me it's nearly time."
Liz harrumphed, "You know darn well it is. Your guests will be here any minute and it won't be a good look if you're still hiding in here when they arrive."
Getting up, he walked over to Liz and gave her a kiss on the check, "No, it won't. Is everything ready?"
"Yes and before you ask, Maddie has gone over to visit the Carmichaels. Now that she's going to another school, she wanted to go visit Natasha."
"That's good. I wouldn't have minded if she came to lunch since it is just getting to know someone."
A frown appeared on Liz's face, "I know why you want to get to know this one. She owns the land next to that factory you want to expand."
"There's nothing that gets by you, is there?" Eric replied with a hint of humour in his voice. "By the way, you said guests. Is there someone else coming?"
Every time she found out that she knew something her nephew didn't, it always brought a big smile to her face, "No, there isn't much that I don't know about where this family is concerned. As for the guests, she rang about an hour ago saying that she's bringing a friend. She mentioned that she had asked if it would be okay and you said yes."
"I probably did but I never actually expected her to bring one and as far as I knew there wasn't going to be one." Whoever, the extra guest was didn't really matter, as long as they kept quiet. The last thing he wanted was his plans to be curbed by a third party.
"I don't know why I let you talk me into this."
Faith smiled, "You came because you like me and because you owe me a favour."
Before her companion could say any more, the taxi pulled to stop in front of a mansion in South Beach. Well, it wasn't really a mansion but a very large two storey home and in Faith's opinion a bit large for three people to live. Even though her family had a house large enough for all of them to fit in, it was still modest compared to this. Then again, she was from a well-off middle-class family and not the upper echelons of society.
She was here today on business and she had come prepared. Knowing that there was safety in numbers, she had invited her next-door neighbour to come along with her. The last thing she wanted was to be left alone with Eric Richards, so that he could work his charms on her. Richards was after the land she owned, and he wasn't going to get it as easily as he probably thought he would.
After getting out of the taxi, she waited while her friend paid for the taxi. Yes, he was a friend and even though he was good-looking that was it. She wasn't interested in any romantic entanglements. Having already being married once, she was in no hurry to do it again. Besides, she was too busy for that sort of thing with researching her novel.
Offering his arm, her escort smiled, "Shall we?"
"We shall," she replied with firm nod. He knew the reasons why she wanted him to be here today and being the gentleman, he was he had reluctantly decided to come after a little bit of convincing. The fact that he owed her for helping out of a messy situation when he first moved into their apartment block helped a lot as well.
When they reached the front door, Faith rang the doorbell. Within minutes, the door was opened by, what Faith presumed was the butler. "Hello, could you please tell Mr. Richards, that Miss Talbott and Mr. Carson are here for our luncheon appointment."
To be successful in business, you have to be ruthless.
After Quinn, his butler, had informed that his guests had arrived and were waiting for him in the lounge room, Eric had made his way there, pausing briefly to adjust his tie before entering the room.
"Miss Talbot, I'm glad to see that you managed to your way here."
"Yes, we were fortunate enough to find a taxi driver who knew this part of town." She turned to her companion, "May I introduce to you, Mr. Mark Carson, who is a dear friend and confidant of mine."
Mark raised an eyebrow at the way Faith had introduced. He was a friend but not that dear or a confidant either, but this was her show and he was along just for the ride. He turned to Eric and held out his hand, "Mr. Richards."
"Mr. Carson," Eric said as he shook the man's hand firmly. Small talk was a ritual he didn't like participating in but if it got what he wanted then so be it. "Are you any relation to the Carsons in Tallahassee?"
"No, sorry." Mark answered, not sure what to make of the question, "I recently moved here from Washington."
"Washington? I was only there just a few weeks ago on business. I can't say that I blame you for moving down here." Eric looked over at Faith, who was admiring a porcelain figurine on one of the side tables. "My aunt Liz bought that a few years ago. If you are interested, she could probably tell you more about it."
Faith smiled, "I might do that. It reminds me off some early 17th century figurines I saw in England when I lived there. However, that is not what I came here for."
"No, it isn't," Eric smiled, "If you would like to come this way, we can have lunch and discuss what you did come here for in more detail."
Mark and Faith both nodded firmly, and followed Eric into the dining room.
Lunch had been progressing quite pleasantly as far as Faith was concerned. Upon entering the dining room she and Mark were introduced to Eric's aunt Liz. Faith found her to more genuine than Eric, especially in the small talk that they all had participated in during the meal. Mark looked he was enjoying himself, no doubt taking mental notes for future use in his government job.
Towards the end of the meal, Eric had bought up the subject of why she was here in the first place. Faith smiled as she listened to him ask if she had considered his offer.
Nodding her head, she answered, "Indeed, I have Mr. Richards and what I would like to do is make you a counter offer?"
"A counter offer?" A frown appeared on Eric's face. He wasn't prepared for this as he had thought his original offer was more than generous.
"Yes, a counter offer," Faith took a sip of water before going on, "You told me you wanted the land to expand your factory but what you didn't tell me was the exact reason why you wanted it. You were very vague on the subject."
"What I do with the land after I buy it from is my business," Eric replied.
She could tell by the sound of his voice, that he was trying to keep the tone light. She smiled, "Yes, it is. The price you offered me is far above the actual value of the land, which leads me to believe that whatever it is you want it for, must be important."
Eric leaned back in his chair and glances at his aunt, who was delighted with what was going on. Carson was leaning back in his chair, contented with watching the sparring match. He turned back to Faith, "All right, Miss Talbot. Yes, what I want the land for is important to me. You needed worry about why, but I can guarantee you that it is for honest purposes."
"I have no doubt about that Mr. Richards."
"That's good," he leaned forward, "Now, that we have got that sorted out, you can go back to your research safe in the knowledge that you have received a very good price for your land."
Faith sighed, "Well, not exactly. I am willing to part with the land on one condition."
To be successful in business, you have to be ruthless.
One condition? That could mean a lot of things and Eric didn't quite know how to respond. Whatever the condition was, it was probably going to favour her more than him. If he didn't need the land so desperately to fulfil the government contract he had just won, then he would have told her to go to hell but that wouldn't be a good thing. It wasn't because he didn't like her, but the main reason was that he liked to have things on his terms and Faith wasn't playing the game.
So, instead he continue to be charming and gracious, which came naturally to him. It was only when he was crossed or he was going in for the kill that he showed, what his aunt would call, his unpleasant side. Aunt Liz had mentioned on a number of occasions that she wished one day that part of him would be gone for good. He was glad that she still loved him despite what he was, and sometimes, he too wished that his unpleasant side would disappear. However, it was part of who he was and if he were to change it would have to be for a very good reason.
After taking a sip of wine, he smiled at Faith, "All right, I'm willing to listen to what your condition is. I do have to warn you that I am a hard negotiator and I will try get better terms."
Faith smiled, "I have not doubt you will, Mr. Richards."
She briefly glance at Mark and Liz to see how they were faring. The both of them seemed content to let her and Eric hash out whatever business deal this would end up as. Although, she did see a hint of a smirk on Mark's face which made her think that he was enjoying the turn lunch had taken.
Looking back at Eric, she took a deep breath, "What I propose is a partnership. I will let you build on the land for fifty percent of the profits you make from the factory you intend to build on it.
Eric frowned, "If you keep the land, all you end up paying for is land taxes, while I still have to pay for a building and all that entails. In my opinion, you still come out on top. I would consider the partnership if it were more like 70, 30."
"Ahh...but you need the land more than I do. I've done my research, Mr. Richards and I know you've got a big government contract that needs to fulfilled."
For a moment, Eric wondered how she knew about the contract but then realised that it would be in the news sooner or later. He had hoped it would have been much later but since she knew there was no use denying it. "All right, yes I do need it but I also believe in making a fair deal and your offer is not what I consider to be fair. If you were contributing more than just the land, then I would think about it, but you're not."
Faith had to admit to herself, that he was right but in the long run, he would be the eventual winner and she didn't want to give up her land that easily. "I think until you come back to me with a better offer, we shouldn't discuss this any more. Perhaps, it's better that we end this meeting right now."
She stood up and turned to Liz, "I would like to thank you for the lovely lunch. I hope you don't mind me ending it so suddenly."
Liz smiled, "No dear, you have the right to do so. I'm sure Eric, will think this over and contact you when he works something out. In the mean time, if you want to come and visit me or vice versa, I will be glad to do so."
"Yes, I would like that very much," Liz said. She liked what she had seen of Liz so far and she would be glad of the chance to get to know the woman better.
A few minutes later, both Mark and her were on their way having decide to walk a little before taking a taxi the rest of the way home. Faith knew that this wouldn't be her last meeting with Eric Richards over the land and she wanted to be even more prepared the next time.